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Bringing Home a New Cat: A Checklist

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Few things are as exciting as bringing home a new feline friend. Following this checklist beforehand will help you have the smoothest transition possible.

Checklist to Prepare Your Home and Family for Your New Addition:

  1. Select a veterinarian so you have a partner ready to help you care for your cat. If you already have a veterinary hospital engaged in the care of your other pets, let them know about the new pet arrival. This way, they can book a health care checkup to make sure the new cat is not bringing fleas or other problems into the home. Receiving a clean bill of health and planning for upcoming medical or surgical plans (boosters, deworming, spaying, etc.) will help you get the new kitty on the road to proper health care.
  2. Read up as much as possible on how to care for cats, even if you have had cats in the past, so you are up-to-date on current care recommendations. The book store and local library may have a decent selection of cat care references. Also, check pet supply stores in your area. There is a plethora of cat care information on the internet, but since you can't always trust online content, you may want to read cat care advice from several sources, and take each one with a grain of salt. Of course, peruse this site; it will help you get a feel for the joys and labors involved with responsible cat care. Your veterinarian and/or local animal shelters and rescue groups may be able to recommend books and online sources. Some veterinary clinics and most shelters and rescue groups have their own websites with original articles and/or links to cat care information. If there are children in your home, make sure you read along with them about caring for and getting along with their new companion.
  3. Obtain the essential equipment you will need at home such as scratching posts, litter boxes and litter, food dishes, sleeping beds, grooming tools, a climber, and a few toys. A travel carrier is also a wise investment so that your kitty does not escape and become lost when you are transporting her home or to the veterinary clinic.
  4. Obtain current feeding information from your new cat's previous care-givers. Ask them to provide you with a written note about the feeding schedule they are using, and request that they give you at least a few days to a week's supply of the food. This is so that a sudden food change does not occur at the same time as the move. Once your kitty has settled in, if your veterinarian has recommended a food change, gradually mix in increasing proportions of the new food. This will help the dietary transition occur without a tummy upset. Gradual transitioning may also help prevent the infamous "turning up of the feline nose" to an unfamiliar food.
  5. If your household includes children, have a family discussion about who will be feeding, cleaning the box daily, and grooming the new cat. Before your kitty comes home, everybody then knows their role in the care of their new furry friend. This can help prevent double feeding, forgetting to feed or clean the box, and other oversights or sibling conflicts.
  6. Children should also understand the need for the new kitty to have some quiet time, and know how to properly handle and carry the cat. If the children are new to handling cats, teasing and tail-pulling should be explained as inappropriate, and remind them that the kitty should never be dropped to test if she will land upright because an injury may occur. Let children know that, if kitty lashes her tail, drops her ears down and back, develops hair standing up over her back and tail, arches her back or hisses or spits, these signs may indicate impending bite or scratch behavior. If any of these warning behaviors develop, the children should back off, let the cat settle down for at least two hours before handling her again, and avoid whatever stimulated the cat to react that way. You can read more about introducing cats and children in this article.
  7. Kitty-proof your home. If there are already children in your home, this may not be necessary, but be aware that curious cats will find all kinds of things to get into! Take care to put human medications away in a secure place. Sewing baskets with brightly-colored thread, needles, and ribbons (fun to swallow) should be placed in a closet or cupboard. Lock up household cleaners. Remove Common Plants Poisonous to Cats. High perches that are not secured to the wall should be stabilized or access to that room cut off.
  8. Read up about cat insurance. Consider signing up for cat insurance as soon as you get your new cat. In this way, you will have the most coverage and the fewest pre-existing conditions that may not be covered. Learn more about pet insurance in Pet Insurance: Peace of Mind for Your Cat's Health.

Now you are ready to have some fun with your new-found feline friend!

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Disclaimer: This website is not intended to replace professional consultation, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed veterinarian. If you require any veterinary related advice, contact your veterinarian promptly. Information at CatHealth.com is exclusively of a general reference nature. Do not disregard veterinary advice or delay treatment as a result of accessing information at this site.